Proposed Tax Could Increase What You Pay to Fix Your Roads

Updated: 04/24/2013 11:15 PM By: Todd Wilson

Dan Casebeer is the owner of Grand Performance Bike Shop in St. Paul. Casebeer says he expected a $1,700 tax assessment, but then he got hit with an additional assessment for a new street. That was $8,700. He says the city of St. Paul's Right of Way Assessments can be taxing.

"I was floored because I thought we were paying for that street assessment every year," Casebeer said.   

St. Paul's assessments for commercial and residential brought in over $27 million in 2012. David Hunt works for public works. He says it pays for pothole filling, seal coating, mill and overlay, etc.

"The right of way assessment is pegged to the level of service that the property owner receives and not to the value of the property," Hunt said.

Soon, a similar program could be coming to you. Sen. Jim Carlson is the author of the "Street Maintenance District Bill."

"Contrary to what a lot of people think, these will be fairly small amounts because they going to be widely charges, kind of like what people pay on water fees," Sen. Carlson said.

Here's how it would works: cities would set up improvement districts and then charge fees within districts. The tax would be applied to any parcel within the district. The law will be in place for five years and then it will end. But the ability to collect will last for 20 years.
Casebeer says he's not an anti-tax guy, but there has to be a better way.

"Give me $2,000 a year for the next four years, we can pay it off ... an assessment like that, it would be easier to do," Casebeer said.